UK Newsletter #5: Speak up and be Heard
Dearest rebels, winter is almost upon us. The nights are drawing in, the frost is rising, and a general election is looming. To some, this is an exciting chance for change. To others it’s merely another sign of the chaos and state of flux of this country (and to a greater extent, the world.) Scenes from
thinking all of your access and wellbeing needs had been taken care of… And then the police impound it all
…” Rebels with disabilities have been at the heart of XR civil disobedience and disruptions since its beginning. But their right and possibility to participate was drastically undermined during the XR October Rebellion.We know that
on October 4, just hours before the XR October Rebellion was set to start, police arrested ten people and confiscated XR equipment
. But it was not just any equipment. Police took away vital kit that would enable the safe and inclusive participation of disabled rebels in non-violent protests
This included ramps, wheelchairs, accessible toilets, noise cancelling headphones for protesters in the spectrum, camp beds for those unable to sleep on the floor, and solar-powered charging equipment for wheelchairs and scooters.
As a result, plans for a disability hub in St. James’s Park
, which was meant to provide a regen place for disabled people, had to be abandoned. Many disabled people were effectively stopped from taking part
in Extinction Rebellion protests. Even the Metropolitan police’s own Disability Independent Advisory Group lodged a complaint
over police ‘discrimination’ during XR protests in October.We know that
disabled rebels displayed extraordinary strength, courage and resilience.
Rebel Paralympian James Brown showed incredible courage when climbing on an airplane
at London City Airport on October 10.Nick Hodgkinson
, 57-year-old man from Leeds, travelled to central London to participate in the protests. He blocked the highway with his wheelchair in Millbank, central London, during a protest on Monday for four hours. He left, when his breathing ventilator was almost out of power.What we don’t know
are the stories of disabled rebels throughout the world, especially in the Global South, that participated – or tried to participate – in peaceful protests during the XR October Rebellion. This, despite the fact that the impact of the climate and ecological crisis will disproportionately affect people with disabilities.
People with disabilities are often in situations of social, economic, and political exclusion and disadvantage. Often people with disabilities feel the health impacts of climate change more severely due to pre-existing health conditions. Many are at particular risk during instances of migration or disasters due to physical, communication, and other barriers, as well as disrupted support networks.
Accessibility issues and lack of inclusion in protest and debate don’t just come from police. As the rebellion grows, we all need to ensure that disabled rebels throughout the world are able to fully participate in peaceful protests.
Not Guilty!An XR rebel has been found not guilty of criminal damage
in a court judgement described as a “wake up call to the judiciary”.
Angela Ditchfield was arrested after spray-painting two XR symbols
onto a council headquarters. She argued that she had a legal excuse as she believed there was an immediate threat to her property from climate disaster
– a defence that can be used in minor cases of criminal damage.
Picture: Mike Scialom
She said she had tried to persuade local councils to act
for many years through standing for the Green Party and arranging meetings, petitions and letters, but their business plan still contained not a single reference to the climate, and they continued to promote unsustainable economic growth and highly destructive policies
. Ms Ditchfield spoke of the immediate damage already being suffered
as a result of negligent council policies – flooding, crop failures, etc.
The verdict from Cambridge magistrates stated, “We find that you have a very strong and honestly held belief
that we are facing a climate emergency
, and that you acted on the spur of moment
to protect land and homes under threat from climate change, believing that immediate protection was necessary
, and the action could be said to have been taken to protect property, and that you believed action chosen was reasonable
in all circumstances. We applied the four-part test in Jones’ decision and we find you not guilty.”
Solicitor Raj Chada, said, “This is a wake up call to the judiciary
as a whole”.
The Lancet Countdown
Published on the 13th of Oct
, new scientific research from 35 global institutions adds further urgency to the global crisis situation. The report focuses on the impact of climate breakdown on worldwide population of children and adolescents
. Authors call for health impact of climate breakdown to be at the forefront of the agenda at the UN Climate Conference (COP25)
, which is being held in Madrid from the 2nd -13th December, 2019.
The full report is available for free here
(free registration required).
Or for a brief summary of findings, see here
Humans of XR Coco Reed, 30 years old, London via New Zealand
“I made the decision to get arrested to hopefully invoke some change. It seemed like a direct action that might cause people to stop consuming for an evening. I hope that awareness around climate change has grown.”We are receiving amazing human stories and we want to know yours. To read more – or to write your own – join our Facebook group.
Thank you for reading. There’s so much exciting stuff going on in the movement that we barely have time to write this sign-off. Keep up the good work! If you have any questions or queries, please get in touch at email@example.com
As we enter this crucial phase in human history, our Rebellion will need money to make sure our message is heard. Anything you can give is appreciated.
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